Sports

Golf: Dustin Johnson finally gets his Green Jacket

V Krishnaswamy November 16 | Updated on November 16, 2020 Published on November 16, 2020

Dustin Johnson finally got the job done. He did have one Major before the Masters, but all the talk was about how he had let so many get away. On the final day of the 84th Masters, made unique by a November date and no patrons (as the fans are called at the Augusta National Golf Club), Johnson started four clear. But that lead shrank to one when he left the fifth green. His nearest rival and playing partner Korean Sungjae Im birdied twice as the World No. 1 birdied once and bogeyed twice in first five holes.

Visions of all the previous misses started coming into the rear view when he had begun the final round with at least a share of the lead — the only time he had won a Major, the 2016 US Open, he had come from one behind to win by three.

This time, Johnson with his languid walk and casual look, steadied the ship with birdies on the sixth and the eighth, and added three more birdies in a row after getting past the Amen Corner. He birdied the 13th, 14th and 15th and then calmly parred the 18th for a closing 68 that gave him a record-breaking 20-under total, which eclipsed the previous mark set by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

Korean Im faltered with bogeys on the sixth and the seventh as Johnson moved into cruise mode and ended five clear. Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith shot 69 each to tie for second at 15 under. Im’s finish was the best by an Asian at the Masters.

ALSO READ: Four shots and daylight between Johnson and the field after 54 holes at Masters

Johnson’s early stutter ended with a fine tee shot at the pin on the Par-3 sixth, as the ball came within six feet. Sungjae Im chipped to three feet from behind the green. Johnson holed the birdie and Im missed the par. The lead was quickly back to three.

Im bogeyed the seventh, too, while Johnson earned a par after a low punch when blocked by pine branches. Danger had been averted again and Im had fallen further behind.

Smith was still within two shots when they made the turn, but with a stronger wind he managed only more birdie, while Johnson shifted gears.

After four Top-10s in four previous starts, the Green Jacket was finally his. Defending champion Tiger Woods was ready to help him slip into it as the traditions demands.

Woods, meanwhile, had gotten over the nightmarish 10 on Par-3 12th, where he went into the water three times. His final burst of five birdies in last six holes made the pain easier at 76, but he slipped to T-38, a drop of 20 places from where he was after three rounds.

After putting out on the 18th, Johnson hugged his brother-cum-caddie Austin, and before the champion could shed tears, Austin did. The golfing world watched Johnson win the biggest prize of career on their TV screens and just a few patrons — 100-odd members and families — were present to cheer Johnson.

All those previous misses were now history. Gone were the nightmares of 2010. The US Open at Pebble Beach, when he lost a three-shot lead with a second-hole triple bogey. He carded 82 and ended T8. An unintentional error of grounding the club on his 72nd in a bunker, that looked like wasteland, cost him the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits two months later.

ALSO READ: DeChambeau bludgeons his way to US Open, leaves all awestruck

In August this year, Johnson took the lead into the final round of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. He shot a solid 68, but still lost to a 23-year-old Collin Morikawa (64) by two strokes.

Right now, Johnson is on a brilliant streak. He has held at least a share of the lead after 54 holes in his last seven starts and has already won the Northern Trust, the Tour Championship and the FedExCup. And now, he has the Masters.

Johnson’s second major is his 24th TOUR win. He now has a win in each of the last 14 PGA Tour seasons — a record he shares with Woods.

Of his 24 PGA Tour wins, 12 came between 2008 and 2016, and he matched that number in just five from 2015 to 2020. In his last 22 Major starts, he has won twice, been runner-up four times, been in Top-10 13 times and missed the cut only three times.

Dustin Johnson has probably hit the peak, and at 36, he sure does have a lot of good and fit years.

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Published on November 16, 2020
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